Property taxes become delinquent April 1 of the year following the year of assessment (Example: 2007 taxes are assessed January 1, 2007 and become delinquent April 1, 2008), at which time delinquent interest is added at a rate of 3% plus advertising cost. The advertising cost is determined by sealed bid of local newspapers.
The unpaid accounts that are subject to be included in the annual tax certificate sale (to be held on or before June 1) are advertised three weeks prior to certificate sale. After the certificate sale, additional penalties and interests are applied (interest rate is determined by successful bid during the certificate sale).
Delinquent taxes may be paid by personal check if payment is received prior to the certificate sale date; after which time payment must be in the form of certified funds drawn on a U.S. dollar account (i.e. cash, cashiers check, money order, wire transfer or credit card).
How can delinquent taxes impact the property owner?
Delinquent taxes will accrue interest at the monthly statutory rate (not to exceed an annual rate of 18%) until the taxes are paid. Please check for the total amount due in the month you choose to make payment as the amount due will likely increase monthly.
Per Florida Statute 197.432, a tax certificate is sold each year on unpaid taxes (for more information on the certificate sale process, please visit http://www.hctaxcollector.com/taxes/tax-certificate-sale). When a certificate is 2 years old from the date of delinquency and before it is 7 years from the date of issuance (if the taxes remain unpaid), the certificate holder “may” apply for a tax deed application.
If the 2010 taxes are unpaid, it becomes delinquent April 1, 2011 and delinquent interest (Gross/Total Tax X 3%) plus advertising cost (generally less than $1) are added. If the tax remains unpaid, a tax certificate is sold on June 1, 2011. IF by June 1, 2018 the taxes are not paid, nor has a tax deed application been initiated, the tax certificate will “expire” (FS 197.482).
If the certificate holder decides to initiate a tax deed application, the tax deed process will bring the property to a public sale and the property will be sold to the highest bidder. The minimum bid at the public sale is determined by the unpaid taxes, interest, and costs of sale.
The certificate holder, nor the Tax Collector, is required to notify the property owner prior to beginning this process (other than the two notices mailed annually in November and April). The Tax Deed Sale is scheduled and conducted by the Highlands County Clerk of Courts, who is statutorily required to mail notice to the property owner and recorded lien holders at the last known address by certified return receipt at least 20 days prior to the sale date.
The tax deed process can be stopped if payment in full (in the form of cash, cashier’s check, money order, wire transfer or credit card) is received by the Tax Collector prior to the sale date. If payment is not received by the sale date, the property will be sold at the public sale to the highest bidder. Once a property has been sold, a tax deed is issued to the purchaser, and your property ownership is lost. The issuance of the “Tax Deed” by the Highlands County Clerk of Courts is final. For additional information regarding tax deed sales, you may contact the Highlands County Clerk of courts at their website link above, or by telephone at 863-402-6586.
In accordance with FS 197.122: All owners of property are held to know that taxes are due and payable annually and are responsible for ascertaining the amount of current and delinquent taxes and paying them before April 1 of the year following the year in which taxes are assessed.